Hangman

  Like many word games, Hangman is fun to play and can help you improve your vocabulary.  You try to find the secret word by choosing letters of the alphabet that you think might be in the word.  If you can figure out the word before you try too many letters, you win.

Here are websites and apps where you can play this game for free…

  • Many Things  is a website for English learners.  They have many good hangman games  – but unfortunately most do not work on iPhone/iPad.
  • Fun With Words is a site for anyone interested in English words.  They have a hangman games that works on most all devices – including iPhones and iPads.
  •   Ultimate Hangman is good free app for iPhone/iPad (99 cents for Android and other platforms).
    • 4 Themes (you can see a snowman melting instead of a hanging man)
    • You can choose from many vocabulary lists (such as verbs, animals, or foods)
    • You can choose word lists from other languages (Spanish, Portuguese, German, French)
    • You can even make your own vocabulary lists, to help you study
    • Plus – you can play alone, or as a game against someone else
    • Here’s a lesson on how to use this app

Prefixes

   A prefix is a set of letters added to the beginning of a word, that changes what it means.  For example, the prefix un- usually changes the original word to the opposite meaning (happy/unhappy).

There are many common prefixes.  This doesn’t work for all words, but if you learn how these prefixes are used, you can increase your vocabulary more quickly.  (unlucky; unzip; uncut; unopened; unwrap; unknown; unlock; etc.)

Here are some of the most common prefixes:

Finally, here’s a larger list of 50 common prefixes.

Video Dictionary

To explain a word you don’t understand, there are good dictionaries especially for English learners – such as the Learner’s Dictionary There are picture dictionaries – such as on the website English for Beginners.  There is another website – called the Video Dictionary, or “Vidtionary” – that describes English words for you by using very short videos.

Here’s a sample video describing “vending machine” …

Get Text Messages with Art

The Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco is 3,000 miles away from MetroWest, but you can see some artwork from their collection on your phone – plus practice your English a little in a fun way.

The museum has a feature called “Send Me“.  Just send a text message to 57251 and ask for a picture of something – and you will usually quickly receive a text with a related photograph, painting, etc. from the museum.  You can even ask for art using an emoticon.

For example, you can try sending a text to 57251 like this:

  • Send me the ocean
  • Send me something blue
  • Send me 🌺

Levidromes

A palindrome is a word, or set of words, that spells the same thing if you read if forward or backward. For example: noon, mom, kayak, level, and “step on no pets”.

However, there is no official name for a word that makes a different word when spelled backwards.  For example: stop (pots); keep (peek); desserts (stressed); now, loop, reward

A 6 year old boy in Canada named Levi has suggested that we call those levidromes.  Can you think of any other levidromes?

Time Traveler

  The English language is more than 1,000 years old, but new words are being added to the language all the time.  The website for Merriam Webster Dictionary has a new feature called Time Traveler, where you can enter a year and find out words first used in that year.

You can enter the year you were born, or the year you immigrated to the U.S. to find new words for that year.  For example, words first used in 1978 include: control key, eye candy, face time, frequent flyer, sticky note, and surrogate mother.

You can also look up the meaning of most words, and it will tell you the year the word was first used.  For example: helicopter parent.

For fun, take the Time Traveler Quiz – to see if you can guess which of two words was used first.